Athletic people like to set goals. By setting and exceeding self-imposed goals, we gain invaluable confidence in addition to a better body, better health, and a better brain. Yet, if we push too hard, we risk mental burnout and physical exhaustion. We need to learn how to balance the pros and cons of pushing our limits.
In order to perform at our best, we should use efficient techniques so our bodies bear less of a burden. My preferred sport is running. By making running easier, I try to lengthen my running career and my health. Here are some simple but effective ways I have found to challenge myself without risking burnout.
Shortening one’s stride.
Although this seems counterintuitive, shortening your stride actually helps you take more steps per minute. With more steps every minute, you cover more ground, and save the energy you would otherwise expend trying to cover more ground. For context, it has been suggested that one ought to take 180 steps/minute.
Keep one’s head up.
An interesting study conducted by New York University concluded that if a runner simply keeps his eyes focused on something in front of him a run may seem both shorter and easier. These tactics allow us to achieve our goals, gain confidence and remain motivated.
While running, make a conscious effort to lean forward with your ankles on every step. By using gravity to our advantage, we reduce the workload on our legs, thus making ourselves faster while making the workout less taxing. Think of it as “falling forward,” but make sure you don’t get too caught up falling forward—or you may end up falling on your face.
Relax the arms.
Many of us tense our shoulders and tightly bend our elbows when we run, but this wastes energy. Relax your shoulders and arms (to an extent) while running to use that energy for running instead of arm-pumping. Here are a few tips on how to improve arm form to make sure you’re getting the most out of every lunge forward.
Take recovery time.
Sitting on the couch does not scream ‘healthy,’ however it is necessary. Our bodies need time to recover in order to rebuild muscle so that when we run again, we run faster and more effectively. Pay attention to your body. As I wrote in a previous post, when to push and when to rest is simply an exercise in common sense.
Running may be high-impact but it does not have to be high risk. By implementing a few soft skills into a technique you greatly increase the likelihood of extending your running career.